John Amaechi Honored by Queen of England
We don’t have to call him “Sir John”—at least not yet. But as part of the Queen of England’s birthday celebration over the weekend, former Nittany Lion basketball star John Amaechi ’94 received the Order of the British Empire, which is awarded to citizens of the United Kingdom who have performed a valuable service.
Amaechi’s impressive resume, which includes time with three NBA teams, becoming the first openly gay NBA player, earning a doctorate in psychology, campaigning for human rights and LGBT issues, and working with at-risk youth, surely caught the queen’s eye.
“I see this honour as a chance to reach out and do more to create an equality of opportunity for all people, but especially to inspire young people,” Amaechi said in this story from MVP Basketball. “I was once an overweight bookworm who hid in the corner of my school library and wished I was invisible.
“My mother told me that I could do better than just disappear—she convinced me that the most unlikely of people, in the most improbable of situations can become extraordinary. I hope to use this platform to convince other young people just how true this can be for them too.”
The 6-foot-10 Amaechi kept his sense of humor, too, noting that many people who are so honored say that they are standing on the shoulders of giants. “I feel very much like I am here today due to efforts of numerous people, but in my case, I am a giant who is standing on the shoulders of slightly smaller people.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor